A Story from the Time of the Afscheiding
translated by Rev Cornelius Hanko
The Fourth Man
It was a beautiful Saturday evening, a few weeks after the departure of the emigrants. Maarten and Ko Boelhouwer sat pleasantly resting after their day’s work. They were always inseparable friends, even though much had changed in their lives. They, formerly boys, had grown up to be sturdy young men, both of whom already wore a beard.
Koen drew pleasantly on a bitten-off little pipe, while Maarten clamped a small cigar between his teeth: after all, it was Saturday evening!
Recently Koen had also started working in the weavers’ shop of the Ham family, where he had taken the place of his father. His father could no longer perform the heavy work of a black weaver and had gone back to the spinning wheel. He now earned less than his son, but Koen did not forget his parents’ needs.
Maarten was for some time already the indispensable co-worker of his father, especially now that his grandfather was completely retired from the business. The old man, who could barely walk, sat contently in an armchair next to the bench. Noisy swallows screamed continuously over the farm, and the crickets chirped everywhere. It was as if you could smell the coming summer in the atmosphere.
Maarten and Koen were generally too restless to sit quietly on a bench in the evening like grandfather. But this time they were too much aware of the approaching Sunday. Both had recently made confession of their faith and tomorrow they might celebrate the Lord’s Supper together with the congregation. Then they would sit in the lowly house of Gijsbert Haan at a plain table with the simple stone plates and cups.
Reverend Simon Van Velzen1 of Amsterdam had arrived already at noon from Bulwalda at the Kerkbrink in a yellow coach.
“Isn’t your father at home?” Koen suddenly broke the silence. “No, he fetched Reverend Van Velzen from the coach and brought him to his destination.”
“Yes, yes! quite a different arrival than that of Reverend Buddingh eleven years ago in the hollow of the night!”
“You can say that again, man! It is a good thing that King William II now reigns!”
“I will never forget that Sunday as long as I live, it was simply horrible!”
“That it was!” agreed Maarten. He turned to his grandfather: “Do you still remember that you said to me that we were cast into the fiery furnace?” The old man nodded thoughtfully. “That we were, boys, but the fourth man was also present.” The young men looked at him inquiringly.
“Do you mean,” Koen stammered, “that the angels were round about us?”
“Exactly, my boy. And not only on the 12th of June. Lately, now that I have nothing else to do, I have thought a lot about that. God promises us in Psalm 91 that He will give him angels charge over us. He fulfilled that promise to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He still does that. A “fourth man” took care that on Pentecost Monday a wheel broke on Jan Donker’s wagon right at our house, Maarten. By that our whole family became involved in the Secession. A few days later, Koen, your father was left in the lurch by the deaconate and attacked by the liquor devils. Later he himself told you about it, and me also. It was again the “fourth man” who protected him and protected your entire family from ruin. Your family joined our congregation and your father obtained a new boss, who later also joined us. It was the “fourth man” who brought Reverend Buddingh safely into the town and saw to it that he was not too soon detected. The “fourth man” watched over us also on that horrible Sunday. He prevented an untimely ending of our morning service. In the afternoon He helped a number of people to get away and He gave those mistreated the strength to endure.
“He went with you, Maarten, when your companions cast you out and booed you. He stood next to your spinning wheel, Koen, when they plagued and teased you. The walls of the court house in Amsterdam could not stop him, so that our brethren from Loosdrecht and Gaveland could sing their psalms even there. And when Gerbert Hogebirk died before the court, the fourth man immediately carried his soul to its Sender. He is on board the ships that are bringing our friends over the ocean. He will also watch over us by day and by night and always. For the Lord has promised that.”
When the old man was silent because of exhaustion, silence reigned for quite a while on the bench. His words had not only given new meaning to the past, but also courage for the future.
Suddenly Leo, the young dog—Bas was dead already for years—began to bark. He did not know enough to quit and tugged at his chain. “That will likely be your father,” offered Koen. “No,” answered Maarten, “then he barks differently. A stranger is coming, one who seldom comes here. It can very well be even a good acquaintance.” It proved to be an acquaintance, but not a good one.
On the farm appeared the forceful figure of Peter De Nooij. The policeman was in uniform and carried a small box.
The two young men felt an unpleasant sensation when they saw the old enemy of the Secessionists approaching. However De Nooij also did not seem at ease. He was walking quite slowly, which was unusual for him. He wore his cap at an angle, which he otherwise never did.
“Good evening, folks,” he began hesitantly.
“The same to you, De Nooij,” grandfather answered without showing any sign of emotion, “nice weather this evening! You certainly are not coming to bring some unpleasant message, are you?”
“No. Not that, hm, I am actually coming for my wife, you see.”
“Aha, is Geijsbertje Vlaanderen your new boss? Doesn’t she come from Huizen? But take a seat, De Nooij! There is room enough on the bench.”
“No, no.” answered the policeman nervously. “I am on duty tonight, however, …hm…”
All at once he took a step forward and placed the small box on the lap of the old man. “On behalf of my wife I came to bring you this, Boelhouwer! It is for… for tomorrow. You may use it as long as you have need for it. Eh…now, make good use of it.”
He saluted stiffly and hastened off from the yard again noticeably faster than he had come, newly accompanied by Leo’s barking.
A strange expression had appeared on grandfather’s face. His shaking fingers touched the shiny locks of the little box. His grandson quickly came to his aid and soon the cover clicked open. At the same moment Maarten and Koen both uttered a cry. In the light of the evening sun the dull glimmer of pure tin plates and cups showed itself.
“That is surely not possible!” stammered Maarten.
“Not as far as people are concerned,” answered grandfather, deeply moved, “but with God all things are possible. Tomorrow we may partake of the bread from these plates and of the wine from these cups.”
Koen jumped up at once and reached for his cap. I am going to run after him to thank him!” he cried spontaneously.
But the old man withheld him. “This evening Pieter De Nooij has possibly carried out the most difficult task in his whole career. Don’t make it harder for him, boys. You can better bring this little box to Gerrit Meijer. Actually he now has charge, as it were, of the congregation, now that Gijsbert Haan has left.”
They still remained sitting for a little while, overwhelmed by the unexpected happening. The old gray-headed man wearily straightened his back.
“Here we see again that God sometimes chooses ways of which we do not even dare to dream. Now He uses even our worst enemy and his wife. How it came about that they did this we likely will never find out. But it gives courage for the future! The Holy Spirit can still perform wonders in the hearts of those who remained behind in the Hervormde Kerk (The State Church). He can also stop the disputes in our secession churches and restore peace.2 I hope fervently that you may still experience that.
“And for that do not forget the fourth man.”
Then, soon after, when Maarten and Koen, still impressed with what was spoken, left with the little box, the old man hobbled to the gate. There he stood leaning against the large linden tree watching the young men until the shadows of the night made it impossible to see them. Then he turned to the west. Night was coming, but the fiery red in the evening sky predicted that God would send a new day.
And a new Day.
1 Simon Van Velzen was one of the men who left the State Church with De Cock, Van Raalte, Brummelkamp, Scholte and Gezel-Merberg.
2 After the Secession, the churches had many problems, some of which resulted in divisions and departures from the denomination.
Addendum for the Fourth Man
In this story free use is made of the scarce data and traditions that have been saved from this anxious time. That implies that most of this did not actually happen. The main persons are the product of the imagination. The tragic attack on the farm of Gijsbert Haan on June 12, 1836 is (alas) indeed an historical fact. However, similar acts of violence did occur in the Netherlands in those years.
In the present-day Hilversum there is very little of the old weaver’s town left. Most of the houses and farms of that time have disappeared and many streets have been renamed.
On the Kerkbrink may still be found the old church tower (The church was replaced in 1891 with a larger one), the court house (now a civic information center), and the “Large Tavern” (now a hotel called “The courtyard of Holland”). Also the old toll house at the parting of the ways to Baarn and to Utrecht is still there (now a café). “De Jonghe Graaf van Buuren” is still being used. The wooden Hondenbrug was replaced in 1929 by a stone bridge, which still bears the same name. The burial place “Ponder dying,” in which many persons mentioned in this story were buried, was closed in 1943 and soon will disappear.
Gijsbert Haan and his traveling companions reached the United States at the end of May or in the beginning of June 1847. They migrated to the state of Iowa, where Reverend Scholte established a colony.
Gijsbert Haan later resided in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There he played an important role in the organizing of the Christian Reformed Church in 1857.
Also Jan Roest did well in America and filled important offices.
After their bitter experiences in Hilversum Jan Hartog and his companions returned to Bunschoten. Two weeks later a Secession congregation was organized in this town. Reverend Buddingh ordained among others Jan Hartog as elder and instructor Beuker as deacon. At that occasion he also baptized the infant Bort Hartog and a small daughter of Jacob Baas. That took place in a cellar!
The Secessionists from Bunschoten were severely persecuted. They had soldiers billeted in their homes. The soldiers had orders to plague them as much as possible! This was referred to as a “Pleasant Household.”
Instructor Beuker, county constable Koelewijn and the night watchman Nagel were fired from their positions.
Karssemeijer and Reijmerink, after their shameful treatment in the prison, were also summoned to the court in Amsterdam. The sentence read: one month in prison for Karsemeijer and two months for Reijermink. However they appealed to the court in Den Haag, which diminished Karsemeijer’s punishment to three days, because of “remarkable mitigating circumstances.” Reijmerink was completely exonerated.
Reverend Buddingh was arrested in 1838, two years after he preached in Hilversum. The fines that were laid upon him because he preached in “forbidden” gatherings had by that time amounted to 40,000 guilders!
His household goods were sold and he himself spend seven years in prison in Middelburg.
In 1848 he also emigrated to the United States. Following that he completely broke away from the secessionists and went his own way. He died in 1870 in Goes.
Mayor Barend Andreissen and the town secretary, Albertus Perk, who played such a bad role in the Secession, were actually capable leaders. Accordingly, a street was named after both of them. There is also a street serving as a reminder of Dr. van Hengel.
After the Secession of 1834 there followed another withdrawal from the Hervormde Kerk in 1886: the Doleante. In this the well-known Dr. Abraham Kuyper played an important role.
In 1892 the churches of the Secession and Doleantie joined together as the “Reformed Churches of the Netherlands.” All of the separated churches did not join with them: the Christian Reformed Churches.
Cornelis van Ravenswaay, a classmate of Maarten in this story, later became religion instructor in the Hervormde Kerk. His eyes were opened to the departure from God’s Word; therefore, after 1858, he arranged a gathering every Sunday afternoon or evening in a small building at the Kleine Krakebeen, the present Ruitersweg. Every visitor brought along his own chair. The movement that bore the name “The Prayer meeting” existed for thirty years. Thus Cornelis van Ravenswaay prepared the way for the Doleantie on February 19, 1888. However he himself remained Her-vormde until his death in 1900.
Constable Peter de Nooij died in 1876 at the age of 88 years. His wife Gerijsbertje Vlaanderen, who gave her tin cups and plates to the Secessionists, died in 1889 when she was 85 years old.
Her grandchild Alida de Nooij with her husband Dirk Kuiper chose for the Doleantie in full conviction. These were my great grandparents.
A Story from the Time of the Afscheiding
translated by Rev. Cornelius Hanko
To a New World
The last chapter, which described the persecution to which the Secessionists were subjected, really ended the story. This chapter and the concluding one narrate events ten years later.
It was on a windy spring morning in the year 1847, 11 years after the events described in the last chapter. Along the Moleneind the wagon of Ko Boel-houwer rattled slowly out of the town in the direction of the Gooise Canal. The farmer himself held the reins in his hands. His back was just as rigidly erect as before, but his face showed wrinkles that could never be erased. Next to him sat Gijsbert Haan. His figure had thinned out and his hair had turned gray.
The wagon, loaded with traveling chests and suitcases, passed the Boomberg. At its highest point, an age-old, reed-covered town windmill turned steadily. With a melancholy glance Gijsbert Haan stared at the turning of the vanes with the awareness that he was seeing the trusty windmill for the last time in his life. The driver knew what must be going on in the mind of his companion. He was silent and let the horse move on slowly.
More clearly than ever the events of the past years passed before Gijsbert’s mind.
The first years after the secession had been extremely difficult. Many in the town would do no business whatever with those “doctrinally sensitive1 and sanctimonious people.” Because of this, some of the Secessionists were brought into extreme poverty. Gijsbert Haan had to exchange his nice farm on the Groest for a dwelling on the avenue in the midst of the “Devil’s corner”,2 to the great delight of his enemies. Of his fourteen children, five had died at an early age.
The Sunday meetings had been impossible. The congregation gathered at night or in the early morning hours at an outlying farm or in a quiet shop. They even assembled a few times in Gijsbert Haan’s house. That was comparatively safe, since the inhabitants of the “Devil’s corner” slept off their drunkenness during the night from Saturday to Sunday. Sometimes, as during the Eighty-Years War,3 an itinerant preacher was present to baptize a child or to serve communion. Like a thief he would slip into and out of the town. Naturally some of this became known in the town, which mocked at the “early mass” of the Secessionists.
* * * * *
In 1839 the congregation had sent a request to the king to be organized as the “Christian Secession Congregation”. That had been a bitter procedure, for it meant abandoning the right of being the continuation of the old fatherland church. Many of the secession churches took this desperate step. They were so weary of the persecution! But King William I had haughtily refused the request of Hilversum.
A year later he had suddenly stepped down and was succeeded by his son, King William II. The new king was much more lenient than his father. He immediately stopped the persecution of the Secessionists and dismissed the stern minister of justice, Van Maanen. A wave of sincere thankfulness swept through the churches of the Secession, even though they realized that the government had made their freedom not a matter of justice, but of favor.
But the suffering of the young churches continued in a different manner. Mutual disagreements arose that became heated arguments. Gijsbert Haan experienced this misery close at hand. In 1843 the North Holland churches delegated him to the general synod in Amsterdam. There he had to take a stand against his beloved minister Scholte, who wanted to go in the wrong direction and after one day he and a number of his followers had left the meeting of synod. Those who remained had continued to meet for another week. At the end they had kneeled down on the ground, confessed their guilt and adjourned without having made a single decision4. As a broken man Gijsbert Haan had returned to Hilversum. He felt worse about this than about all the persecutions!
In 1845, now two years ago, the Netherlands was plagued with a mysterious potato blight. This became a national calamity. Seventy percent of the harvest was lost, and the potato was the main staple in the diet of the lower class! The fields of Hilversum were also affected. The potato fields turned a gruesome black. The inhabitants became discouraged and restless by the threatening famine; soldiers came into the town to maintain order. Real hunger was suffered that winter, also in the families of the Secessionists. It seemed as if God had turned against them in every respect. The next year the strange blight recurred, although in a milder form.
That fall an incident happened that made a deep impression upon the Secessionists. Rev. Van Raalte from Arnheim, with a group of fellow believers, had gone to seek refuge in the United States. He established a colony in the wooded area of the state of Michigan, and called it Holland. From then on Gijsbert Haan was of the conviction that this was the only solution for him and for his family: to go to a new world!
At the beginning of the year word came that Rev. Scholte also wished to travel to America. He had his eye on the prairies of the state Iowa.
Gijsbert Haan called for a meeting of the congregation and proposed that they join themselves with the emigrants of Rev. Scholte.
These were very serious times. Not all the members of the congregation were able to take that big step. Especially the heirs of their forefathers, in spite of all injustice and misery, were too attached to their inheritance to forsake it. Others were strongly opposed to Rev. Scholte. Finally Gijsbert Haan had twenty names to hand over to the minister.
The emigrants had sold their lowly possessions and on the last night on the farm of Ko Boelhouwer had bid farewell to those who remained behind. It had been an emotional gathering, for had they not for many years experienced joy but especially sorrow together?
The words of Maarten’s grandfather had made an especially tremendous impression upon them. “You folks are now going to a new world. Maybe you will find freedom there, but not perfection. You will find that only in the new world to which I hope soon to go. Then we will see each other again.”
They had prayed with each other and for each other.
In the morning they intended to travel by tow-boat to Utrecht and from there to Rotterdam. There they would embark with about 800 other Secessionists gathered from the whole country. Four emigrant ships lay under sail for the crossing to Baltimore. Rev. Scholte had traveled ahead of them by steamboat to arrange their reception.
* * * * *
The wagon slowly approached the place where the Moleneind ended at the beginning of the Goeise canal. There was a lot of activity, for efforts had been made for years to bring the canal to the center of the city. Both men did their utmost to act as if they did not even hear the shouting and whistling of the diggers.
Four years before, a wooden bridge had been laid over the new section of the canal. This was paid for with the receipts from the dog licenses, and was therefore called the “Dog Bridge.”
A farmer approached the bridge with his milk-donkey, which laboriously moved along with a blue milk can on each side. The farmer, Roel Calis, who had his farm nearby, answered the greetings of the men shyly and reluctantly. Obviously he did not know how to act.
A moment later he hastily drew his donkey aside to allow a small coach to pass. It was Doctor Van Hengel, who was hurrying to a patient in the Corversbos. Amazed, the doctor stared through his small window at Gijsbert Haan and the baggage on the wagon. He was an excellent physician with a warm heart for his patients, but he could not understand this “foolishness” at all. Compassionately he shook his big head.
Mockery, embarrassment and compassion, that was all that Hilversum had to offer that morning.
Soon the wagon reached the old cattle ferry-station of the “Perk-Haanse Canal Boats”. It bore the remarkable name “That’s It”.
The tow-boat to Utrecht was waiting. At the sturdy gangplank were gathered nervous groups of emigrants. Immediately the men approached the wagon and began to drag the baggage to the forecastle of the boat. The young, popular policeman Jan de Jager, who had to keep an eye on the Secessionists, quickly looked over their baggage. Reassured, he strolled back to the town.
When the last travel trunk was carried aboard, Gijsbert Haan thanked Ko Boelhouwer in the name of all of them for hauling their baggage. “No thanks,” the farmer shook it off. “It is the last that I can do for you.”
A thin, half grown boy hitched up the old tow-horse. It was Krijn Splint, formerly Koen’s weak, little brother, who now as driver of the towboat worked at the towing service.
The emigrants boarded the boat. First the large family of Gijsbert Haan, then the others, mostly young people. The last to cross the gangplank were Jan Roest, the young wagon maker, and Gerard Ham, the weavers’ boss, who had finally also joined himself with the Secessionists, to the indescribable scorn of his colleagues. The sailor hauled in the gangplank behind him with a careless motion. As soon as the bell had sounded Krijn started to spur on his nag.
The worn out animal took a firm stand and with a slight jolt the boat began to move. When it had reached sufficient speed Krijn jumped on his horse; in the style of hunters he sat with his legs on one side.
Most of the emigrants had gathered on the forecastle of the boat to cast a last glance at their town over the top of the hold and deck house. Some were at the point of breaking down, especially Gerard Ham. “Farewell, Hilversum!” he said in a choking voice.
“They will miss us like a toothache,” thought Bart Van Leeuwen, a young cabinetmaker, who stood by the railing with his wife and child. But Jacob Hordijk, an old spinner, immediately admonished him.
“You may not talk that way, Bart! There are also people like the grocer Cornelis De Jongh. And above all, a church remains behind. The same God who accompanies us will also care for them. We remain united in the faith. That is the wonder of the church!”
Then the tow-boat slid under the Stone Bridge in the direction of the Vecht, heading for freedom.
1 The Dutch term is really a term of derision. It is here applied to people who consider doctrine important and insist on biblical accuracy in doctrinal statements. It was then as it is now, few care for precision in matters of the truth.
2 The area in the town where all the taverns were located.
3 The war between the Netherlands and Spain at the time the Reformation was just beginning. The persecution of the Reformed people during this time was terrible.
4 There were many differences and disputes among the Secessionists during their early years.
A Story from the Time of the Afscheiding
translated by Rev Cornelius Hanko
The morning worship service of a group of Seccessionists had been interrupted by the authorities, but not stopped. As the worshippers paused before the second service, the house in which they were meeting was raided by the police. Some were badly mishandled and bloodied, but a number escaped through a back door that led to the barn. Rev. Buddingh was returned to his home.
It was noon of the following day. A boy’s head peeped up above the hedge that separated the farm of Jan Hartog from Jacob Bollebakker of Looseind.
“Do you see him coming?” a voice whispered. “No, I don’t see anything,” came the answer. A disappointed mumbling arose from the group of boys that sat behind the hedge.
“Be patient!” said Toon in such a forceful manner that you could hear that he was a son of “Father Jacob.”1 The object of their waiting was Maarten Boelhouwer.2
The whole day they had teased and pestered him in as far as that was possible under the stern eye of instructor De Liefde. Just before the tower clock had struck four, however, it had gotten out of hand. When Maarten had walked to the chair of the instructor to show him his slate, Toon had slyly pricked him in his leg with a pin. Thereupon Maarten had turned about and had given his silent enemy a ringing slap in the face. Instructor De Liefde had turned pale and, without saying a word, had pushed Maarten into the hall. When school was finished at four o’clock Maarten had to stay.
The deeply offended Toon had rounded up the boys in the schoolyard. “We do not allow ourselves to be bullied by such a filthy fanatic! After a while we will beat him up. Are you game?”
Not all the boys had hopped to it. Cornelis Van Ravenswaay wanted no part of it and Dokky had spit at the feet of the despised Toon. Others had silently withdrawn. To his satisfaction Toon still managed to gather a group of boys behind him.
Now they had already sat for half an hour waiting behind Toon. It had rained that morning and the shrubbery leaves were dripping with water. “My shoes are getting dirty here,” mumbled Lodewijk Peet, the son of the weavers’ boss, who sat next to Toon. Because he also wore shoes during the week he was called “the young lord.”3 Besides, he took daily lessons from instructor De Liefde in French, and often showed off by using a French word whether it fit or not. Many of the boys were bitterly offended by that. But since Lodewijk always was supplied with plenty of spending money, he was a devoted friend of Toon.
“Soon we’ll beat him up!” growled the vengeful boy. “They should do that with all that secessionist rubbish. Last night my father fired that Thijs Van Vliet. Aha, now he can nicely starve!” Toon could not imagine a worse death.
No one paid attention to what he said. Most of them were becoming restless. Deep in their hearts they had no grudge against Maarten. They were merely stirred up by the others.
“Maybe he went home another way,” one of them suggested. “Impossible,” spoke Lodewijk pompously. “There he comes!” shouted Toon, suddenly aroused. His eyes shone viciously! “Be ready, boys!”
Maarten was approaching on the opposite side of the Looseind, unaware of any danger. Lonely and miserable he trudged along. Instructor De Liefde had been reasonable in his treatment and he had not been beat with a rod or stick. But the old instructor had not understood the depth of his hurt. It was exactly that seemingly kind misunderstanding that made the boy feel so desperate. Discouraged, he crossed over the curved Elleboog street.
At that moment his assailants jumped up and leaped upon him. “Now once for all we’ll beat you up, you hypocritical undertaker’s helper!” screamed Toon, while Lodewijk displayed his wisdom, “La bourse ou le vie! (Your money or your life!)”
As soon as Maarten recognized Toon he realized what was up. Courageously he clamped his teeth, took off both of his wooden shoes and, fully determined, awaited his enemy. The first attacker received such a powerful blow to his head that he fell away whining. For a moment the cowardly troop withdrew. Maarten took advantage of that by jumping between them. He swung to the right and to the left with his wooden shoes against the heads of his enemies, who wildly and angrily rushed upon him.
For safety’s sake Lodewijk kept to the rear, but at an unguarded moment the ‘young lord’ saw his opportunity to jump unexpectedly on Maarten’s back. Soon Maarten lost his balance and fell to the ground, to the wild delight of his attackers, who mercilessly stomped him, kicked and spit on him. Helplessly the boy pressed his lips together. He uttered no sound, although the tears burned behind his eyes. A few of the neighbors had come out, but no one put out a hand to help the victim.
Around the bend of the Elleboog street appeared a man who was not accustomed to seeing injustice without doing something about it: Manus Rebel. As soon as the old hussar saw the tumult he stood stock still. Exactly what was happening he did not know. What he did know was that his young friend was in trouble and needed help.
For that he was always well prepared. Before the gang realized what was happening he dragged Lodewijk by his attractive hair and threw him full length into the puddle of water. Groaning, Lodewijk scrambled up and promptly chose to run off. At this moment his clothing did not look like those of a young lord. That applied also to the language that he spit out, there was not a French word in it.
The others stood together frozen to the spot. Manus Rebel stepped toward them like a butcher approaching pigs. The gang flew apart like a whirlwind. Only Toon Bollebakker could not get away fast enough because he was so fat. The hussar gripped him by the pants and gave him a good licking, which would last him until the summer vacation. Wailing loudly he went off to his father’s farm.
Fully satisfied, Manus Rebel wiped the dust from his clothing and then turned to the spot where Maarten had laid. But the boy had long before stumbled along the farm of the brothers Van Wulfen to his own home. His deliverer was about to follow him when a strong hand was laid on his shoulder. He looked up and saw the face of Constable Peter De Nooij, adorned with a bandage.
“Manus Rebel, I arrest you for mistreatment of children!”
The old sergeant calmly took a step backward and looked at the tall policeman as if he were a rebellious recruit. “A thousand bombs and grenades, there we have our field marshal in battle against mistreatment! Only your opinion is all wrong.”
De Nooij stood for a moment dumbfounded. Then he screamed, hoarse with rage: “Get going! On to the courthouse, you old skeleton!”
“Swish”—a brown stream of tobacco brushed past his head, so that with a husky cry he jumped aside. “Also insulting the authorities!” His prisoner looked at him with scorn.
“Worthy sir, I was submissive to authority when you still crawled in your diapers. I accompany you obediently, but you need not scold an old man like me.”
Then he stepped with measured tread in the direction of the Kerkbrink, while the constable followed him, chaffing with rage. The duo drew a lot of attention, to the annoyance of De Nooij, who was glad when they climbed the steps of the courthouse.
Mayor Andriessen looked up in surprise when both men entered. Van Huizen, who was about to leave the mayor’s chamber with a stack of papers, out of curiosity remained standing to listen.
De Nooij swiftly saluted. “Your honor, I just arrested one of the ringleaders of yesterday. Now he was engaged in mistreating two school boys, Lodewijk Peet and Toon Bollebakker.”
“Swish”—now he had another shot of juice to deal with, which finally landed in the ashtray of the mayor.
“Say, you shameless cur!” bellowed the mayor, “You are not in the stables of the cavalry.”
“Alas, not,” answered Manus Rebel, “for there you find more decency than here.” Thereupon he gave in his own pithy manner an account of what had happened, while the quill pen of the mayor screeched over the paper on which the mayor was writing. “Your police can better check on those boys, rather than condemning an old servant without a hearing,” Rebel concluded.
“I am capable of giving my orders, Manus Rebel. You always have been a strange chap, but now it has gone too far,” said the mayor. “I do notice with what kind of people you are keeping company. Don’t forget you are known by the company you keep.”
These last words made a noteworthy impression upon the old watchman. His unruly attitude disappeared. He stood upright with uplifted head before his examiner.
“Mayor, in 1812, when you were still working in the small tobacco shop on Kerkstraat, I had to go with Napoleon to Russia. There I experienced the burning of Moscow and the horrible retreat over the Berezina. Three years later I fought with our crown prince at Quatre-Bras and Waterloo. In my old age as a volunteer I also went through the Ten Day Campaign!
“In my life I have seen many evidences of bravery and companionship, but they are nothing compared to the courage and believing trust of these Secessionists. I have also seen much cowardice and villainy, but never such a beastly pack of cowards as yesterday noon in our town.
“At Waterloo I risked my life for the freedom of our fatherland, but now I ask myself what is left of that freedom? Indeed, one is judged according to the company he keeps. Well now, mayor, in the little time that I have left I want to belong to the Secessionists. That will be my honor!”
It was deathly quiet in the mayor’s chamber. There was a strange look of amazement in the eyes of the mayor; in those of Van Huizen a shy respect. Manus Rebel turned himself about on his heels and marched with stiff legs to the door. There stood De Nooij, but he never made a move.
“You go and make your rounds,” the mayor ordered weakly after the door was closed. Behind the back of his policeman he tore up the report.
* * * * *
That evening Koen Splint looked up his friend Maarten. He had also received his share that day: in the weaver’s shop his companions had poured beer over him to force him to sing a psalm. Finally his boss had freed him and cursed his attackers. Not because they harmed Koen, but because they were not working.
The Secessionists suffered severely at the hands of these terrorists. Men servants and maid servants were fired, storekeepers lost their customers, children could not run freely along the streets. That day Koen even went to the weaver’s shop with a knife in his pocket. Day and night his father had a spade at the door to protect his home.
Maarten was brought to school every day by his father. In the evening his father loosened Bas’s chain, so that the dog could go freely about the farm and keep undesirable persons at a distance.
On Saturday of that sad week Ko Boelhouwer went to check on his bee area, for the buckwheat was now in full bloom. Just then a sheep herder with his sheep passed over the moor. The man, who was a member of the Secession congregation, told what had happened to Karssemeijer and Reijmerink.
Mayor Andriesson had signed a warrant that same Sunday evening. It stated that Karssemeijer had undermined authority and Reijmerink had hit the mayor.
That week both men were hauled out of their houses and were brought by three village policemen and a process server to a prison in Loenen. There they had to spend a night in a cell. Fortunately a woman from that town had brought them some food.
The next day they were sent on to Amsterdam and again locked up in a prison. They sat in a cell from eight o’clock in the morning until five in the afternoon without anything to eat or drink. After a short hearing they went to a “night quarters,” a stinking coop full of vermin. They received only a straw sack and a vessel of dirty water, but still no food.
But even as Paul and Silas, they spent the night praying and singing. The following day the prisoners might receive two friends from the capitol, who had also taken along some food. After eating, they had to return to their cell, but they still felt comforted.
At noon they were given their freedom, but put on probation.
The sad tale of the sheep herder made a deep impression. “The Lord saw it and will reward accordingly,” the old man said in a trembling voice.
Beginning the next Sunday the Secessionists met at night or in the early morning.
A short time later the foremost “evil-doers” of the notorious Sunday in June were sentenced before the court of Justice. A fine of 500 guilders was laid upon them.4
A few hours later terrible news went from house to house: Gerbert Hogenbirk, a Secessionist from the beginning, upon hearing of the fine he had to pay, had sagged to the floor after the sentence and died in the court.
For a little while this did make an impression on the town. For a few days Maarten could go to school undisturbed, and for a while Koen was left in peace at the weaver’s shop.
1 We met him before. He was an overly pious member of the local church who, with a sense of his own importance, admonished others how they were to live.
2 Maarten was of a family of Secessionists and had been at the worship services which were stopped by the police.
3 Most of the children were from families who could afford shoes for their children for Sunday, but the rest of the week, except in winter, they went barefoot.
4 These “evil-doers” were, of course, the Secessionists.
A Story from the Time of the Afscheiding
translated by Rev. Cornelius Hanko
In the Fiery Furnace
The forbidden services of the Secessionists in Hilversum were held in the house of Gijsbert Haan. The worship service was interrupted by the mayor, the town clerk, the bailiff, and two policemen. Although all but the policemen left, these officers of the law watched carefully all that went on. Rev. Buddingh preached on the history of Daniel’s three friends in the fiery furnace.
Behind the green table in the courthouse sat the mayor, the secretary and a few members of the town council. Their faces were grim, the air was tense. In front of the table stood the two policemen who had to bring a report of their findings at the worship services they had just left.
“The usual bleating and crying, your honor,” De Nooij1 explained with disdain, “I do not know how else I must report this.” He shrugged his broad shoulders.
“That Buddingh even prayed for you,” remarked Van Huizen,2 who had wanted to put a penny in the collection.
Albertus Perk,3 fearing that the mayor might be influenced by this, hastily interrupted Van Huizen in his speech. “Let’s not wander from the subject. Is that agitator4 still in the town?” When the secretary noticed that the ‘agitator’ would lead another service in the afternoon he beat with his fist on the table so that the ashtray bounced up and down.
“That is what happens when you leave that scum undisturbed! The good name of our town is forever shamed! Isn’t it true that gentle doctors cause stinking wounds?5 My lords, weeds must be destroyed root and stem. I propose that this afternoon we drive out that bunch with as much force as we need!”
“Must the two of us do that?” asked Van Huizen uneasily.
His colleague sniffed with disdain, but one of the members of the council proposed to call out the civil guard, if necessary, to assist De Nooij and Van Huizen.
“An excellent idea!” shouted the secretary with enthusiasm, “If our minister of justice Van Maanen hears how we tackle the issue here, we will become an example for all of The Netherlands.”
His words were received with general approval; even the mayor Andriessen fell under the spell of it.6
Only one member of the council had the courage to protest against the shameful plan. It was the grocer Cornelis De Jongh, a neighbor of Gijsbert Haan, who represented the old Catholics in the council. “What wrong are they doing? They pray, they sing; is that wrong?”
He was attacked from all sides. “They destroy the precious unity among our people, which the king needs so badly,” called out another member of the council. “They are a danger to the country.”
“Nonsense,” answered De Jongh. “An acquaintance of mine took part in the Ten Day Campaign with the Hunter Company five years ago.7 He fought side by side with this Buddingh. For that matter there were other secessionist ministers among them. They are careful, faithful subjects of the king.”
“Alas, yes, the worst rubbish fought then,” taunted De Nooij.
“Our own civil guard, that you now want to misuse, went also,” answered the offended grocer. “Is the civil guard also rubbish?”
But his protests were in vain. They were fully determined to carry out the plan of Albertus Perk. The captain of the guard was called out and at noon the corps was ready to take action on the Kerkbrink.8
The mayor and the secretary took their place at the head of the procession, followed by De Nooij and Van Huizen, and behind them the guard.
The procession went through the Zuiderkerkstraat to the Groest. For this occasion De Nooij had exchanged his cap for a high hat with strings down to the throat. As a sign of his faithfulness to the king he wore an orange cockade9 to adorn his hat.
In the meantime the whole town was in an uproar. A large number of street folk, eager for a riot, followed the guard. The taverns emptied, infuriating the bartenders, who finally locked up and joined the crowd. At least the men who manned the beer taps would know what all the jokes were about which would later be told at the bar.
Soon the farm of Gijsbert Haan was surrounded by the members of the guard. Only a few of them, among whom was instructor Van Oostveen, were ashamed and held back.
So for the second time that day Mayor Andriessen stepped up to the door of Gijsbert Haan, who was already waiting for them. “In the name of the king I order the immediate emptying of these premises.”
“You do not have the right to do that, your honor. Our service is not yet started, we are just sitting together talking.”
But the mayor was no longer receptive to reason. “Out you go! Or else we will use force.”
When Gijsbert Haan, fully determined, continued to refuse, the mayor motioned to the police, “Court police, do your duty!”
Immediately these men stepped forward, pushed the home owner aside and rushed into the farm house.
In the part of the house where the Secessionists were sitting De Nooij grabbed the first one he could, Karsemeijer from Loosdrecht, and dragged him roughly to the door. Van Huizen grabbed Karsemeijer’s wife’s arm, but she was able to pull herself loose and she fell screaming upon the neck of her husband. So both were dragged and pushed outside by the police, where the crowd received them with a roar.
“Go ahead and kill them!” bellowed De Nooij. “His wife is dead already,” the crowd bellowed; but she had fainted.
Karsemeijer managed with great difficulty to reach the grocery store of Cornelis De Jongh, where he washed his wife’s face with vinegar, so that she revived again. After that he took care of his own bleeding nose.
Meanwhile the police had again stormed into the room. Van Huizen grabbed Dunketstein of Hilversum, a man who suffered from fainting spells, by the collar and pushed him all the way off the farm. He finally landed on the farm of the old Catholic, while the blood dripped from his face.
“They are killing me!” he moaned when De Jongh picked him up. Reijmerink of Gravenlander was the fourth victim. De Nooij threw him outside and kicked him across the farm in the direction of the raging crowd, which mercilessly kicked, struck and spit upon the man. Bleeding from nose and mouth he stumbled into the town.10
The rest of them watched from the house until it would be their turn. Some wept, others stared straight ahead with blank faces, still others prayed for strength and courage.
Koen, like a small boy, went to sit on his father’s knee. Maarten bent down by his grandfather, who also was kneeling. “Doesn’t the Lord help us, grandfather?” he whispered as he sobbed.
The old man gave him a look which he would never forget. “The Lord is right by us, boy, especially now when we are being thrown into the fiery furnace. Apart from His will the enemy cannot stir nor move. But He allows this because He has His purpose with it.”
For the third time the police dashed inside. Thijs De Vries had to witness in helpless rage, how De Noolj struck his uncle on his head and pushed him toward the door like a criminal, while Van Huizen with great difficulty dragged Gilbert Hogenbirk away.
At that moment, on the other side of the house, a low door was opened from the outside. In the ray of the sunlight that shone into the room Maarten saw the tearful face of his sister Klaartje. At the beginning of the drama she was still outside and had hidden somewhere on the farm, until she discovered the low door, by which the pigs could enter.11
The eyes of Gijsbert Haan lit up. “Folks, we can now escape. Get out!” Maarten took his grandfather by the arm, “Hurry, you go first.”
“No, no, boy, first the women and the children.”
“Yes.” The strong voice of Jan Hartog sounded behind them. The giant from Bunschoten12 walked to the door and motioned to the children. First Koen and his little sisters went through the opening, followed by Maarten and Jan Roest, the son of the wagon maker. Then followed a few of the women.
Jan Hartog helped them through the low opening. On the other side of the house two visitors from Huizen, Schram and Verwelius by name, helped the escaping people to get to their feet. Manus Rebel was struck by that. Bunschoters and Huizers usually did not get along too well together, but here conflicts disappeared.13
However the sharp ears of the hussar14 again heard footsteps on the farm.
“This is going too slow, Hartog,” he whispered uneasily.
Hartog nodded and looked up with concern. Suddenly his eyes rested on the large wagon doors, which were opened at harvest time to enable the farmers to drive their heavily loaded wagons into the barn to be unloaded.15 These doors were now closed and barred, but Hartog had come up with a risky idea. To think and to act were for him the same thing. He ran to the doors, took hold of them, took a deep breath and forced them up with all his might.
Gijsbert Haan’s wagon doors were not strong enough to withstand such great force: they broke off their hinges and came down to earth with a crash. “Get out of the way!” screamed the giant, still panting from his exertion.
After the doors were opened, there was plenty of room to escape. When De Nooij and Van Huizen, now accompanied by a few of the guards, once again entered the house, they were just in time to see the last Secessionists disappear.
At the same time Reverend Buddingh appeared on the scene. Tired after the night-long trip and the disturbed morning service, he had slept a while in the house and was awakened by the tumult around and at the farm.
When Hartog and Manus Rebel saw him they turned back to the farm.
With rough curses the guardsmen pressed upon the minister, but Hartog fearlessly jumped in front of them. “Don’t you dare to touch him with your filthy hands!” he shouted with a thundering voice.
The guardsmen jumped back and Van Huizen went to stand by the door. Not because he was afraid, but just to be sure.
Then De Nooij stepped forward provocatively. He looked Hartog over, who was dressed from head to foot in the clothing customarily worn in his town. “I thought so,” De Nooij said mockingly. “It surely stinks like herring here! Here we indeed have the heel-licker of our pious colleague Koelewijn. I’ll soon get you, you blighter. But first I have to get that big scalawag!”16
For the time being that was the last that De Nooij said. When he took one step in the direction of the minister Jan Hartog leaped at him like a roaring lion. The policeman saw him coming and wanted to use his handcuffs on Hartog.
But this time Peter De Nooij had found his equal. With a mighty swing, behind which all his colossal strength was hidden, Jan Hartog threw the heavy body of the policeman into the corner of the threshing floor. His hat took the worst of the blow, and it came down over his nose, so that he could not see nor hear anything. His legs swayed like the legs of a shot pheasant. Then he fell stunned to the ground.
Reverend Buddingh knew how to quiet his excited protector with a single word.
However the fall of De Nooij meant the end of the attack. His fellow fighters stared for a few moments with big eyes at the fallen giant. Then the whole group fled, with Van Huizen in the lead, crying as they went: “De Nooij is knocked down. De Nooij is unconscious!” The reaction upon the crowd was indescribable.
When Jan Hartog came on the farm a little later to pump some water for the very purpose of bringing his enemy to consciousness, the cowardly mob spread out in all directions. Even the guard took to their legs.
No one witnessed the shameful departure of the “unconquerable” policeman, Peter De Nooij. Bare-headed, he stumbled into the Zuiderkerk street. Manus Rebel walked a short distance behind him to keep an eye on things. At the Zeedijk, Van Huizen suddenly popped up and hesitantly joined his colleague.
The old watchman remembered the day of the cattle market a few weeks before. “When one is in trouble his friends disappear,” he grinned before he turned away.
Gijsbert Haan thought it advisable that Reverend Buddingh should leave Hilversum as soon as possible. After a hearty and encouraging farewell, the minister, Jan Hartog and instructor Beukers went to the stable of Huig Corton on the Narnse lane. No one so much as pointed a finger at them.
Soon the horses were harnessed and the trio returned to Bunschoten.
Conditions remained tense in the town and in the evening the taverns were fuller than ever. Van Huizen had quite a time clearing them up, for his colleague was no more to be seen.
And in the mayor’s room of the courthouse things were extremely stormy.
Barend Andriessen outlined a plan of action…
1 De Nooij was one of the policemen who was particularly hateful of the Secessionists.
2 Another policeman, far more sympathetic to the Secessionists.
3 The town clerk who had really been responsible for the first attempt to break up the worship service.
4 The reference is to Rev. Buddingh.
5 An old proverb which means that a doctor who is afraid of hurting his patient will not be of much help.
6 When the mayor had first learned in the middle of the night that the Secessionists were bringing a minister into town, he was most reluctant to act.
7 The reference is to a battle in which Dutch troops had fought.
8 The general area where the Secessionists were meeting.
9 An ornament something like a roseate which served as a badge.
10 Such treatment of the Secessionists was not all that uncommon.
11 The meaning here is not entirely clear. On the farms in the Netherlands the barns were usually attached to the house, and a small doorway led directly from the house into the barn. That is probably the reference here. But animals were rarely allowed in the house proper. This only was permitted in those places where the farmer was very poor. The doorway referred to in the story cannot mean a doorway by which pigs entered the house, although it was the connecting doorway between house and barn.
12 The same village from which Rev. Buddingh had come.
13 That is, the people from these two towns and the churches in these towns did not get along.
14 Manus Rebel who once was a soldier in the Dutch army.
15 These people were now inside the barn, but faced with these huge doors.
16 Bunshoten was a village on the sea in which a great deal of fishing was carried on. Hence the reference to the odor of herring. Apparently Koelewijn was the Secessionist minister in Bunschoten, from which village Hartog had come, along with Rev. Buddingh.
A Story from the Time of the Afscheiding
translated by Rev. Cornelius Hanko
Rev. Buddingh had been brought to Hilversum during the night so that his presence in the village would not be detected. He was to preach to the Secessionist congregation the next morning, and the congregation knew that, if his presence were known, the town authorities would try to prevent him from preaching. The men who brought him thought they had succeeded in keeping his coming a secret, but Constable Van Huizen had witnessed it all while on his night patrol. He had reported what he had seen to the mayor and both had gone to the town clerk, Mr. Perk, the man who wielded real power in the village and who hated the Secessionists. Plans were now being laid to prevent the Secessionists from meeting.
“Arise! Attention! March!”
With a shock Maarten and Koen were torn from their deep sleep. They rubbed their eyes and wondered where they were. When they saw the harsh yet roguish face of Manus Rebel1 above them they were reminded at once of all that had happened: how they had lain in the half-used haystack of Gijsbert Haan! The old night watchman himself had steered them there the past night, because it was too late to go home.
“How late is it?” asked Koen with a yawn.
“It is eight thirty, sir lieutenant colonel,” answered the hussar in a friendly tone. “In a half hour the gentlemen are expected for roll call. Will you therefore please get up like an old blunderbuss? or do I need to help you?”
Both friends seemed to feel little need for a “helping hand,” for they quickly got up. They washed themselves thoroughly at the pump from which Manus Rebel pumped plenty of water, so that the last feeling of sleepiness completely disappeared.
Back by the haystack the hussar handed Maarten his Sunday clothes and shoes, while he smiled at the wondering look on the face of the boy. “Your father brought them when you were still sitting on your roost. Your full dress uniform, Sir.”
Koen put on his usual clothes. “I am always in full dress uniform,” he joked, but his laugh was a bit sad. As poor weaver’s sons they had no Sunday clothes, still less shoes.
Still feeling somewhat strange by all that was happening, Maarten stooped to tie his shoestrings. Koen was already looking curiously over the farm. People were starting to enter the rear of the house through the small half‑door.2 Dancing in impatience Koen waited until his friend had finished dressing, then both boys followed Manus Rebel to the side door.
* * * * *
The dim passageway was full of men. The boys knew most of them, but there were also strangers among them. The news that a minister would preach in Hilversum had spread secretly throughout the area. Secessionists from the neighboring places had stealthily entered the town that morning: from Naarden, Huizen, Buusum’s Graveland, yes, even from Loosdrecht. Hunger for the Word of God enabled them to face all difficulties and risks.
Reverend Buddingh stood like a janitor at the door of the meeting place and held back all the men, “First the women must be properly seated,” he ordered determinedly. Some of the men complained about that, especially Manus Rebel, but Jan Hartog grinned broadly and preserved a good spirit among them. The man from Bunschoten knew that this was one of the peculiarities of the minister.
The two boys were also held back; they were disappointed, but also a bit proud that they were counted among the men.
Finally also the “stronger sex” could enter. Koen and Maarten looked in amazement. Gijsbert Haan and his helpers, in order to seat such a large crowd, had brought out the strangest of seats. The boys were each taken by the hand of their fathers, and, after a lot of moving about, Maarten got to sit on a stone milk crock, while Koen was happy to learn that his seat was a foot‑warmer.
Along the side wall stood a small table, set on an apple box. That was the “pulpit.” Behind it stood a kitchen chair.
Suddenly the bustling stopped. Reverend Buddingh and the consistory stepped forward.
Manus Rebel closed the door and took his seat on a worn out saddle that he had discovered on the farm. “The nicest seat for a hussar,” he whispered to his neighbor.
Then it became perfectly quiet in the back part of the house of Gijsbert Haan. Reverend Buddingh had shaken the hand of Tijmen Grootveld3 and then, with hands folded in front of him, had taken his place behind his table.
“Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made the heaven and the earth.”
Loud and clear his voice rang through the low area. Then he spread out his hands and pronounced the benediction. The small congregation answered with the singing of a psalm, in which instructor Beuker led the singing. After that the minister read the law slowly and impressively. After each commandment he waited a moment and allowed his eyes to pass over the audience, who almost held their breath. Never had they been so impressed by the commandments. Again a humble psalm rang out in response to the law.
Reverend Buddingh chose the third chapter of the prophet Daniel and read it. It was the history of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego, who refused to worship the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar and were cast into the fiery furnace, but were protected by an angel.
The voice of Reverend Buddingh was overwhelming. Koen and Maarten were edified as they followed the history with their father, although it was well-known to them. It was as if they themselves were witnessing it. Even the adults felt that.
Everyone understood why the minister had chosen that passage of Scripture in this time of persecution and oppression. A deep feeling of peace fell upon the lowly group in the back of the house. God would protect them from all dangers!
Suddenly they became aware of how great and how close these dangers were.
When Reverend Buddingh had closed the Staten Bijbel4 and was ready to lead in prayer, Manus Rebel suddenly rose up from his saddle. He saluted and spoke as an officer with a trembling voice: “Reverend, I fear there is danger!”
All became quiet as a mouse. Then also the others noticed the sound that the sharp ears of the old watchman had first picked up: the sound of a growing noise outside the farm.
A minute later the outside door was forced open and a voice shouted, “In the name of the king, open up!”
It was the voice of Mayor Barend Andriessen.
* * * * *
For a moment panic threatened to break out. But the quiet voice of the minister, who called to those present to keep courage, served as oil on stormy waters.
Gijsbert Haan was white as a sheet, but had gained control of himself by the time he went to the door. Manus Rebel wanted to accompany him, but the elder asked him to stay inside. He knew that the hussar did not always use the best language, especially not when he was excited. And the authorities of the town deserved to be received with respect.
Calmly he opened the door and with a quiet glance viewed the situation.
Across from him stood, besides Mayor Andriessen, Perk the town clerk, Constable Van Huizen and Jacob van Wielick, the bailiff of the courthouse. At the gate stood the ceman De Nooij, who held back a number of curious people.
Before the mayor could speak a word, Van Huizen took a bold step forward.
“You will hang now, Haan,” he crowed triumphantly, “If you want to outdo Gregorious van Huizen you have to get up earlier in the morning. Ha-ha!”
Gijsbert Haan did not consider Van Huizen worthy of as much as a glance, and he looked without fear at the mayor. “Good morning, your honor! What can I do for you?”
Van Huizen crept into his shell and even the mayor became somewhat uncertain by this calm reaction of the home owner.
“Hm…it was brought to my attention that an unlawful religious meeting is being held here.”
Gijsbert Haan pushed the door wide open and stepped aside. “Convince yourself, mayor; the church is open to everyone.”
The men entered the room, while De Nooij, after warning the crowd, joined them. With deadly calm the congregation saw the five men come into their midst.
The mayor opened his mouth and closed it again, and looked irresolutely at Albertus Perk. Perk had in the meantime allowed his eyes to pass speedily over the meeting place. “There are surely more than twenty present here, your honor.” he growled with grim satisfaction, and winked at Jacob van Wielick.
Jacob van Wielick handed the town clerk an old, yellow document that dated back to the time of Napoleon. It contained the law that every gathering of more than twenty persons held without the approval of the government was declared to be illegal. The French occupation officers had thought the law would prevent all opposition by the Hollanders. This forgotten regulation was now used in free Netherlands against the Secessionists.5 Albertus Perk now thrust the paper in the shaking hands of the mayor. He cleared his throat and began to read with a trembling voice: “In the name of the king! No association or society of any kind of more than twen…twenty per…persons, with…with…”6
He got no farther. His nerves had taken complete mastery over him, and he dropped his head helplessly.
At that moment, to the surprise of every one, Reverend Buddingh came forward. “Mayor, shall I read it?”
Totally bewildered now, the mayor looked at the minister, and even the town clerk seemed to be struck dumb.
“After all, that law has already been read to me so often that I know the contents by heart,” added Reverend Buddingh. “You forbid us in the name of the king to serve our God, but we must obey the King of kings rather than men! Congregation, let us sing verses 1 through 3 of Psalm 27. ”
Jan Hartog immediately began the singing with his strong voice. The congregation sang the first verse still somewhat uncertainly, but putting themselves completely into it, the next two verses rang forth:
When evil doers came to make my life their prey,
They stumbled in their shame and fell in sore dismay:
Though hosts make war on every side, still fearless I in God confide.
My one request has been, and still this prayer I raise,
That I may dwell within God’s house through all my days,
Jehovah’s beauty to admire, and in His temple to inquire.
During the singing the mayor had left, followed by the town clerk and the bailiff. However, both the policemen were given a signal to remain. They were witnesses of the fact that the minister shortly after prayed for the king and also for the mayor in his congregational prayers.
Reverend Buddingh took as the text for his sermon verse 25 of the chapter he had read:
“Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt: and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
They all were encouraged and comforted by the sermon, and even the smallest among them understood somewhat the marvel of that which took place there that morning.
After the service Gijsbert Haan invited those who had come from other places to have dinner with them, for the minister would preach also in the afternoon. The others could return to their homes without hindrance.
Peace seemed to have returned to the town. But when a few windows on Gijsbert Haan’s farm were shattered later in the day, after the services in the other churches, it became evident that it was a false peace.
It was the quiet before the storm.
1 Manus Rebel was a retired army officer who had helped the men bringing Rev. Buddingh get through the town without being seen—or so they thought. He still enjoyed speaking in military terms and exercising the authority he possessed when an officer. He now earned a bit of money by being night watchman.
2 Some of our readers may be acquainted with a “half-door,” for it was common on barns. The door was split in half horizontally and each half could be opened separately from the other. Such doors were frequently called “Dutch doors,” and were found on houses in the Netherlands as well as on barns.
3 Prior to the minister entering the pulpit, one elder would shake the minister’s hand. This is still done in our Canada churches.
4 The Dutch authorized version of the Bible. It had been authorized by the great Synod of Dordt and is still used in the Netherlands in conservative churches, although in the Netherlands as in our country, the Authorized Version has been replaced in many churches by more modern translations.
5 The reference to this law is historical fact. The French did make such a law, and it was used against the Secessionists repeatedly.
6 Our readers will recall that the mayor had not been in favor of attempting to disrupt the Secessionists’ meeting, but had been persuaded to do it by the forcefulness of Albertus Perk.
A Story from the Time of the Afscheiding
translated by Rev. Cornelius Hanko
Rev. Buddingh had come to Hilversum to preach for the Secessionist congregation there. He was taken to the town in the night because the Secessionists knew that his presence, if known, would bring upon them the wrath of the municipal authorities. Manus Rebel, an old, cynical retired soldier, had helped them get into the village. Although they had met some unexpected obstacles, they had succeeded in bringing Rev. Buddingh to his destination, the home of Gijsbert Haan, where he would stay for the weekend. They thought they had succeeded in keeping his coming a secret, but they were mistaken.
Constable Van Huizen had promised himself a quiet night on duty. A few hours earlier he and his colleague, De Nooij, had emptied up the taverns with the usual hubbub. Yes, they had done this together…, but De Nooij had done the lion’s share of the work and he had held back.
After completing this chore, Van Huizen had sauntered through the back alleys and lanes, here and there checking a door or with some idle chatter lifting a drunk to his feet—the usual work on Saturday night and early Sunday morning. But now he stood pondering the unusual event that he had just witnessed: a number of men, who obviously did not want to be seen, had entered the farmhouse of Gijsbert Haan in the hollow of the night. Haan was seemingly an honest citizen, but nevertheless he belonged to “the Cocksian brood,”1 as De Nooij called it.
Van Huizen’s curiosity won out over his hesitancy. After all he was justified in going to investigate.
The constable crossed the Groest and remained standing for a while at the gate of the farm. Then he carefully stepped over the small area where clothes were bleached to the closed shutters. He drew one slowly and carefully open and stared inside. He witnessed the hearty reception that Reverend Buddingh received. Astonished, he wanted to open the shutter a bit more, but then somewhere a dog began to growl. The next moment Van Huizen was outside the gate. Still a bit uneasy he walked from there over to the Groest, while his brain slowly worked. What a strange man had stood there, with short trousers and a three-cornered hat on his head!
Suddenly he stood still and tore his cap from his head greatly agitated. Obviously, that was one of those Secession ministers, who secretly wanted to preach here tomorrow! But, Van Huizen thought, that fellow will be bitterly disappointed.
Van Huizen did not have any particular grudge against the Secessionists. As a Roman Catholic he felt very little involvement in their affairs. But he had discovered something special…
When he reached the Kerkstraat his mind was made up. He would immediately report his discovery to the mayor.
For a moment he considered walking to his home in the Doelen to get his tall dress hat, but he thought better of it. His wife Johanna would probably scare awake, and moreover he would make much more of an impression if he had come directly from the field of battle.
Swiftly he ran down the Kerkstraat. At the Zeedijk2 a drunk lay on the road, but the constable gave it no thought.3 He simply stepped over him. He was hunting nobler game.
* * * * *
At the corner of the Schoutenstraat stood the peaceful and important home of Mayor Barend Andriesen. For twenty years he had filled this office, initially as a sheriff and after 1825, as mayor. He was Van Huizen’s immediate superior and the constable did feel his courage fail a bit when he stood in front of the closed gate.
But finally he carried on and made the heavy knocker boom on the thick front door. With a hollow echo the sound carried through the nightly silence of the house. Soon an upper window grated open and the head of the mayor himself, adorned with a fancy nightcap, appeared in the window. “Who is there?” he scolded, not entirely awakened.
The sergeant immediately sprang to attention. “Constable Van Huizen reports, your honor! I have a discovery to report which is of greatest importance!”
“Really?” the mayor responded without enthusiasm. “Well, then, wait a moment.” The window closed with a slight sigh.
After a “moment” of ten minutes he opened the door, fully dressed, and let his subordinate into a side room. Perfectly at ease he began to stuff his long pipe, while Van Huizen nervously twisted his cap. A large crucifix that hung above the chimney reminded him that the mayor was of the same faith as his.
“Well now, Van Huizen,” he finally began, puffing out a cloud of smoke, “tell me your tale.”
The sergeant gave a broad account of his discovery. The mayor listened to him in silence and after hearing the story, sat painfully still for a few minutes.
Finally the mayor cleared his throat. “Why do you come to tell me this in the darkest part of the night?”
“We can take that fellow while he is in his bed, your honor!”
“The two of us?” responded the mayor with slight mockery. “And on the basis of what? Because he lodges there? Use your head, Van Huizen. Tomorrow I will give De Nooij orders to keep an eye on that house.”
But Van Huizen would not be sent on his way so easily. “But, your honor, that type of person stirs up unrest and riot.”
“Therefore we must awaken no sleeping dogs. Let those Protestants settle that matter among themselves.” The mayor stood up and carefully tapped his pipe empty in an ashtray.
Now Van Huizen made his final effort, a vicious one. “It is my modest determination, your honor, also to inform Mr. Perk about this.”
The mayor felt rising in him the inclination to throw the ashtray at Van Huizen’s head. “Mr. Perk” was the fiery town clerk; one that hated all that belonged to the Secession. According to some he was the actual head of the municipality.
“Fine,” the mayor spoke sharply after a few moments, “If you are determined to carry the matter to an extreme, let us go together to Mr. Perk.” He hung his pipe on the rack and put on his hat.
“You mean right now?” asked Van Huizen, quite upset.
“Yes, that is what I mean,” stated the mayor, not without satisfaction. “Didn’t you want to haul someone out of bed?”
Soon both men were walking down the Kerkstraat. From the direction of the courthouse on the Kerkbrink rang a suspiciously happy song. It was the members of the civic guard, for whom it was quitting time. They were appointed to assist the policemen in their night duty. That “assistance” usually consisted of spending their hours drinking and playing cards in the guard room.
“Good peace keepers,” joked Van Huizen, “You can hear them coming a long way off. If we constables did not use our eyes and ears so well…”
“Yes, we get a lot of pleasure from your alertness,” answered the boss sarcastically.
* * * * *
Albertus Perk, the town clerk, was not a little disturbed when he was called out of bed. But his mood changed like a leaf on a tree when Van Huizen had finished his tale.
“My compliment on your attentiveness, Van Huizen,” he said to the beaming constable. Then he turned with a determined movement to the mayor.
“Your honor, I have advised you so often to deal with that rabble with a strong hand. Now you see what is happening. If tomorrow we do not take strong action our noble town will soon become the breeding nest for all sorts of fanaticism and dispute. What would the governor of the king think of that?”
Mayor Andriesen decided to resign himself to the inevitable. He pushed his hat back a bit and cleared his throat.
“Well then, I summon you both to the court tomorrow morning at nine o’clock. I expect constable De Nooij at the same time. Maybe our friend Van Huizen will transfer the order to him.”
“Our friend” stood at attention and saluted. “At your service, your honor.”
Shortly after, the mayor and the constable each went their way, the first nervous, the second tense.
It was June 12, 1836. The golden glow of the rising sun announced a glorious Sunday morning. But above the small Secession congregation dark clouds gathered threateningly.
1 This was a nickname for the Secessionists. It comes from the name of their leader, Hendrick De Cock, who had begun the Secession in his church in Ulrum in the northern part of the Netherlands.
2 Literally “the sea dike,” apparently a reference to the dike which directly held back the North Sea.
3 This chapter’s description of drinking in Dutch villages is no exaggeration. Such frequenting of taverns and open drunkenness were usual.
A Story from the Time of the Afscheiding
translated by Rev Cornelius Hanko
An Unexpected Escort
The Secession was spreading and matters that had to do with the relationships between the Secessionists and the authorities were coming to a head. A small congregation of Secessionists had been organized in Hilversum, the small village where the events of this book take place. A Rev. Buddingh, a rather eccentric and old-fashioned minister, but a faithful preacher of the Scriptures, had offered to come to Hilversum to preach. The Secessionists knew it would provoke deeper anger among the people, but were determined to have him anyway. The last chapter ended with Rev. Buddingh and his escort arriving on the outskirts of Hilversum. They were traveling at night to avoid detection.
That same night in the thick brush near the tavern of Rademaker, just outside the built-up area of Hilversum, a boy was to be found squatting. He was staring steadily with wide eyes at the tavern where a slender figure moved back and forth in front of the windows.
Suddenly the spying figure disappeared. That Koen certainly had a lot of nerve! Now he was even hiding behind the Rademaker tavern!1
Quite naturally the events of the previous day passed once more before the mind of Maarten, as he too was hiding in the shrubbery along the road.2
How had all this come about?
Koen had once again come at noon to play with Maarten, just as on the previous Saturday. Albert Van Vliet, Thijs’ uncle, had just brought his beehives and placed them in their enclosure. The insects were released on the white beauty of the blooming buckwheat. Breathlessly the boys had regarded the fascinating sight.
The old beekeeper had stayed for dinner, and then a strange thing began to happen.
Father had taken the two boys to the threshing floor and there told them that Maarten had to go to bed. Dumbfounded they had stared at father. Go to bed at 6:00 on this beautiful Saturday evening? Indignantly Maarten had kicked off his wooden shoes and Koen had disappointedly taken his cap to leave. However, then came the surprise: “Koen is going to stay here to sleep,” Father said.
Suddenly, they realized that something special was going to happen. With eager attention they had looked at Maarten’s father, whose face, while cheerful, was also solemn.
“Have you both kept secret the proposal of Reverend Buddingh?” he asked.
They had done that, but it had been difficult.
“Well, the plan will be carried out. Tonight he is coming to our town. We will try to bring him safely and unseen to the farm of Gijsbert Haan. Therefore you boys will first sleep a few hours, for…” here the farmer paused a moment; “you may take part in the doings tonight.”
In vain they had begged for more information.
“You will hear more tonight! Maarten, to bed! Now!”
“Father, may Koen sleep in the spare room?”
“No, the uncle of Thijs Van Vliet will sleep there. He is also eager to hear the minister tomorrow. Koen will go to the haymow. There is still a bit of hay in it.”
“Father, then may I also sleep in the haymow?”
“Not a chance, in that case you would get no sleep at all.”
At 11:30 father had to shake both boys awake. Half asleep they had dressed and Father had led them along all sorts of small lanes to Koen’s house. There they met Koen’s parents and Gijsbert Haan. In the quiet darkness of the little rear garden—the children who slept in the small one-room dwelling might not be awakened—they received their instructions. Their hearts pounded when they realized that they would be the first guard post that the wagon would pass when it came from Bunschoten.3
“Your fathers and I are getting too old to creep between the bushes,” the elder had said with a grin, adding in an earnest note, “You understand, boys, tonight this is no game, this is serious! I almost said ‘bitterly serious,’ but the cause of the gospel is never bitter.” He had shook hands with both of them.
They succeeded in reaching the tavern of Rademaker without being seen and now they had already laid more than an hour in the quiet darkness waiting for the mysterious wagon.
One thing had gradually made the boys uneasy: even though it was long past midnight all the inhabitants of the tavern were obviously not sleeping. A pale ray of light still shone out from the rear. Finally Koen had sneaked across the road to check on it.
These events explained the presence of these two boys at Rademaker’s Tavern so late at night.
* * * * *
Suddenly Maarten scared out of his reveries. Koen was coming back!
Cautiously he slipped back across the road and immediately bent down with his mate.
“So!?” whispered Maarten tensely, “Could you see anything?”
“No, the shutters were closely drawn. But they are not sleeping. I plainly heard talking.”
“That doesn’t sound good to me,” Maarten said slowly after a minute or so. “The time for closing is surely long past.”
“Why man, so far away from the town they are not so particular,” answered the weaver’s boy in a worldly-wise tone. “Did you think that De Nooij or Van Huizen ever…”
Suddenly Koen was silent for Maarten gave him a hard pinch on his arm. In deathly silence they leaned against each other. Then Koen also picked up the sound that the sharper ears of the farmer boy had already heard: the dull stamping of horses’ hooves.
“Let’s go,” hissed Koen, for whom thinking and doing were the same. “There they are!” Followed by Maarten he crept to the edge of the bushes.
Suddenly the loud and piercing neighing of a horse echoed through the quiet night. The boys, who were ready to make their appearance, were filled with terror. But soon they had the feeling of sinking through the ground as the door of the tavern burst open and a figure in uniform went up the road with determined footsteps.
It was the hussar sergeant Manus Rebel.
* * * * *
Badly scared, Jan Hartog, the driver of the carriage, tugged at the reins. After the neighing of one of the horses, the dark figure of Manus suddenly appeared.
At once two well-trained hands brought the animals to a stop, and through the darkness there echoed a dusky voice “Halt, riffraff of wretched flayers!”4
The driver of the carriage saw the shining of the uniform buttons, and his first thought was that he was dealing with a county constable.
“We have no forbidden goods with us, constable, we are merely traveling.”
“Tell that to the cat!” was the sarcastic rejoinder of the non-commissioned officer, who inwardly chuckled at the thought of being taken for a county constable. He let go of the horses and with a rumble in his throat, he stepped away from the wagon. Only then did he spy the other two occupants. Dumbfounded he stared at Reverend Buddingh, whose three-cornered hat was plainly visible over against the moonlit sky. “What in the world do I see now? In what regiment do you serve?”
The next moment Jan Hartog sprang from the wagon, hitting the ground hard. The quick-tempered Bunschoten man had discovered that the man who waylaid them was only a hussar, and now faced him with his colossal figure.
“Who gives you the right to hold us up, inflated bagpipe? Get out of our way and sleep off your drunken stupor.”
Manus Rebel, who was on the verge of dropping the matter, flared up in a rage. Instructor Beuker climbed from the wagon, for it appeared that the two men were about to engage in a fistfight.
Before he could come between them, however, the bushes stirred. Two boyish figures sprang into the road. Maarten and Koen did not want to be left out of it any longer.
Maarten gathered up all his courage, stepped up to the gigantic driver and said in an undertone “Zuiderzee.” That was the password that Gijsbert Haan had given to them. Gradually Jan Hartog opened his fists and silently stepped back.
In the meantime Koen had approached the old hussar, saying “You keep your hands at home, Rebel, this is an honest matter.” The hussar took hold of the lean chap and swung him around as if he were a spinning top, so that he could see the face of the boy in the moonlight.
“Speak up, mate, who do you belong to? Your face looks familiar to me.”
“My father is known as Evert Splint,” answered the boy without any evidence of nervousness. “And now please let the minister go on his way.”
“Evert Splint, aha,” grunted the sergeant, who remembered that memorable Saturday night when he had inadvertently kept Koen’s father from returning to his former addiction to alcohol.
Instructor Beuker and Jan Hartog, after a few whispered words between them, had climbed back on the wagon, and Maarten sat next to the driver. “Come on, Koen, we’re going now!” he called.
Koen did not need that repeated. Swiftly he scrambled up into the carriage.
Manus Rebel stood dazed, then it penetrated his mind what this was all about.
“You folks are completely out of your minds to bring a secession minister to Hilversum. If Constable De Nooij sees it…”
For the first time Reverend Buddingh raised his voice, “My life is in God’s hand, friend. Maybe you will now step aside?”
Manus Rebel was quiet for a moment, then answered in a much softer voice, “Must I then be pushed aside like a clown? But that is not my make-up! True, I have involved myself with that which is not my business,” he continued. “But now that I know what is happening, I would gladly take part in it. I offer to you to take you safely into the town. Agreed?”
For a split second Jan Hartog glanced back, but he only saw the others silently nod in agreement. “Settled, sergeant! And forget what I said about sleeping off your drunken stupor.”
Manus Rebel, flattered by the fact that he was addressed according to his former rank, shook the enormous hand of the driver, an action which forced him with difficulty to suppress a cry. Then he settled the horses. “They are good animals,” he said with approval, “I have sat on much worse than that.” Soon the wagon rattled on, while Rebel walked ahead of the horses.
“Why were you so late at the Rademaker tavern?” asked Koen with the boldness of a weaver boy. Maarten colored as he thought: That Koen dares to say anything.
“When you are reminiscing about the past it sometimes becomes a bit late, sir cavalry captain,” replied Rebel. “And now keep your beak shut, for we are right by the toll house.”
They had now approached the place where their road met the road to Utrecht. At this intersection was a tollhouse with two tolls in order to cover the cost of the upkeep of both roads. The surroundings of the small building began to become visible in the darkness. All at once Jan Hartog tugged at the reins, while Maarten and Koen in surprise called out “The toll beam is closed!”5
“You were to keep your windbag shut!” snarled Manus Rebel in an undertone. Then without hesitancy he pushed up the heavy beam. Alas, this did not happen quietly: the hinges screamed for oil. Almost at once a window opened and an angry voice cried: “What is all the racket about in the middle of the night? What do you want?”
Manus Rebel did not let this bother him. With a voice as if he were bellowing at a regiment, he responded, “Man, slam your big hay barn shut, this is an important transport.”
The toll boss saw vaguely a uniform and chose the wisest way out. Angrily he pulled the window closed, and the wagon continued on its way.
Both boys shook with laughter, but Reverend Buddingh and instructor Beuker were offended by the unmannerly action of the old sergeant. “Be not too hasty in your judgment,” whispered Jan Hartog. “He will presently be forced to prove his worth.”
He was right. While the wagon slowly rocked along the dark Veeneind into Hilversum the old sleuthhound proved his value. Nothing seemed to escape his experienced ears and eyes. One moment he grasped the horses by the bridle. They all were as quiet as a mouse, although no one detected any danger.
But after about a half minute a drunkard’s song pierced the night “At Uitert, at Uitert, at Uitert on the Do.” A ghastly figure staggered from between the trees on the way to a worker’s shack. To his surprise Koen recognized Lammert Vlaanderen, a former mate of his father. If he should have discovered them…
The drunken weaver disappeared behind his little house. They could still plainly hear his chanting, but also the “hearty” welcome he received from his wife.
After fully five minutes Manus Rebel risked moving again. He went to the driver’s seat and whispered to the boys, “Where exactly are you going?”
Koen leaned toward the old codger, “To the farm of Gijsbert Haan. But we must first park the wagon in the tavern of Huig Corton on the Baarnse Lane. My father and Jan Donker will be on guard at the end of the Veeneind!”
“Order accepted,” muttered the sergeant, well satisfied. “Forward to the Baarnse Lane!”
Fifteen minutes later, after parking the carriage, the men and the boys walked over the Groest like a row of geese, right alongside of the houses and farmers. Manus Rebel, who was at the end of the line, let his eyes rest on the slightly bent figure of the minister, who walked ahead of him. A figure on the other side escaped his view. That dark figure withdrew as fast as he could fly and from another vantage point watched the strange procession.
A minute later the goal was reached. The men slipped through the side door into Gijsbert Haan’s home.
As the last one, Manus Rebel closed the door behind him and put a fresh plug of tobacco behind his teeth. “Operation accomplished. No enemy has seen us,” he muttered with satisfaction.
But in that respect he was mistaken.
1 We have met Koen Splint before. He had very little education because he had to work in a weaver’s mill to help support his family. His family had begun to worship with the Secessionists, but Koen himself was a bit of a rascal. He was a good friend of Maarten.
2 These events were described in chapter 15.
3 Bunschoten was the village from which Rev. Buddingh was being fetched.
4 The reader will remember that it was common in those days for scoundrels to go about during the night, finding and butchering dead animals and selling the meat the next day in the markets.
5 A beam was lowered across the road to prevent any from entering the road until he had paid his toll.
A Story from the Time of the Afscheiding
translated by Rev. Cornelius Hanko
A Night Attack On Hilversum
The Secession was spreading and matters that had to do with the relationships between the Secessionist and the authorities were coming to a head. A small congregation of Secessionists had been organized in Hilversum, the small village where the events of this book take place. A Rev. Buddingh, a rather eccentric and old-fashioned minister, but a faithful preacher of the Scriptures, had offered to come to Hilversum to preach. The Secessionists knew it would provoke deeper anger among the people, but were determined to have him anyway.
The following Saturday was past.1 Barely had the bell in the imposing medieval tower of Bunschoten rung its twelve strokes, and a farm wagon rattled through the dark streets of the town and stopped in front of a small house. The driver jumped with a limber jump from the seat and knocked softly but sharply on the closed shutters.
“Jan, are you ready?” he asked in a hushed voice. He waited a few seconds and then a sleepy voice droned, “I’m coming, Jacob.”
The reed chair in the small room creak loudly and the huge frame of Jan Barten Hartog, commonly called Jan Borde, appeared.2 He stretched himself again so that his hairy fists almost touched the ceiling, and then carefully reached over the cupboard bed.3
Evertje Wildeman opened her eyes and looked at her gigantic husband with concern. “Jan, is it really so necessary that you go in the middle of the night?”
He nodded earnestly. “It is, wife! The Hilversum brethren have begged the minister to come tomorrow. But it is far too dangerous for him to show himself on the streets there during the day! Therefore it is safer to go already tonight.”
“And therefore the strongest man of Bunschoten and Spakenburg must go along,” Evertje added.
“God goes with us,” answered her husband simply. Together they glanced a moment at the wooden crib, in which little Bartje slept, their youngest who was barely two weeks old. “Soon he can probably be baptized,” whispered his mother, deeply moved.
Again there was a tapping at the windows, so that Adrian, the oldest child, was awakened. “Just go back to sleep, son, and take good care of your mother today. Good-bye, wife.”
“Go with God,” sounded from the cupboard bed. Jan Hartog cautiously closed the outside door behind him and soon after he stood with his friend, Jacob Baas on the road.
It was quite a spectacle to see the two men standing next to each other. Baas actually was of normal height, but he looked like a dwarf next to this giant. Yet together they formed the soul of the Secession in Bunschoten. Together they were the first ones to leave the Hervormde Kerk at the end of the year. Three months later they were followed by their wives and a few others.
“Jan,” whispered the driver, “from now on I am going to entrust the horses to you. You know they mean a lot to me.”4
“And you take care of my wife and children, who mean a lot to me.” For a moment a laugh broke out on the drawn face of Jacob Baas, then he laid his hand on the huge hand of his friend. “I promise you that, Jan! And…, the Lord be with you!”
He gave the reins of the horses to Hartog and after a short farewell disappeared in the darkness. The new driver grunted a reassuring word to the horses, climbed on the seat and shook hands with the two men who sat right behind the driver’s seat.
They were Jacobus Beukers, the village teacher, who supported the Secession with heart and soul, and Reverend Buddingh. Huibert Jacobus Buddingh was, even as most of the Secession ministers, still very young, just 26 years old. But because of his remarkable official dress, which he tenaciously maintained, he looked much older.5
Shortly after the beginning of the Secession, he had laid down his office in the Hervormde congregation of the Walcher Biggekerke6 and had joined the Secession movement. Now he traveled throughout the entire country preaching everywhere and organizing churches. Despite his peculiarities and wanderings, he was loved by many. Like all his colleagues, he was hunted like a wild animal.
The horses soon entrusted themselves entirely to Jan Hartog. Adroitly he steered the wagon to the main street. “We will be getting out of the town without being seen,” Teacher Beukers mumbled as they slowly passed the city hall.
But at that very moment the door of the building swung open and two men came out. They were Dirk Koelewijn, the village policeman, and Gijs Nagel, the night watchman. As soon as the wagon came into sight they headed directly for it. The policeman laid his hand on the pole of the wagon. “You’re out pretty late, Hartog?” he asked in a quiet tone.
“You can see that, Koelewijn,” answered the giant, just as calm as his interrogator. “Tonight we are bringing the minister to another town.”
The policeman, casting a sharp glance at the minister, slowly nodded. “We need not know more, men. God go with you!”
He stepped aside and saluted. “Safe return!” Gijs Nagel added emphatically. Thereupon he went on his first round. And the night watchman went home to sleep.
Reverend Buddingh had listened to all this in silent amazement. When the wagon continued on its way he turned to Teacher Beukers. “What a strange man! Lately I have had to deal with a lot of policemen, but never has one saluted me, much less greeted me in a Christian manner. What does all this mean?” The instructor smiled. “Dirk De Booi—that is what he is usually called around here—is indeed an unusual case. When we began to hold our meetings, Mayor Hoolwerf ordered him to go and listen to see if a seditious spirit could be detected among us. Since then he has rarely missed a meeting. He even sings the psalms along with us. Instead of a menace he has become a protection to us. And Gijs Nagel faithfully reads the writings of the Secessionists. I am convinced that they will soon join us.”
Reverend Buddingh was moved by what he heard. “Here we plainly see the power of the Holy Spirit, Brother Beukers! But I fear that this will cost them their positions.”
Alas, the Teacher could not deny this. Secessionist policemen and night watchmen are simply not tolerated by a “tolerant” authority.
Now that they were outside of Bunschoten, Den Hartog allowed the horses to go into a trot, so that temporarily a further discussion proved impossible.
Soon the wagon swerved to the right into the broad Eempolder Street. On this short June night, darkness was only for a very short time, and a full moon flanked with stars lit up the flat polder in a fantastic glow. It quieted the three men on the wagon still more. At Eembrugge they carefully crossed the Eem, the outlines of the Gooi forests vaguely rising up directly before them. They now swerved off to Baarn and quietly passed through the town without meeting a soul, which was not disappointing to them.
Soon they came to the road to Hilversum. Here Jan Hartog stopped the wagon for a moment, so that the horses could rest and the men could stretch their legs.
The landscape had now undergone a complete change. The thick forest of trees hid most of the moon and starlight, and the small, newly paved road to Hilversum looked like a dark, mysterious tunnel.
“Give me the broad acres!” muttered the driver.
“Indeed,” agreed Teacher Beukers, “This area could shut you in, Reverend, for you are accustomed to the flat country around Zeeland.”
“That is true,” answered the minister,” but I was born and grew up in Rhenen. This reminds me of my home.” Silently they inhaled the aroma of the forest. The night still surrounded them, protecting them but also full of mysteries.
“Let us carry on,” Hartog finally broke the silence. “They are expecting us.”
Soon the wheels rattled on the rough streets. The last stretch was reached.
A night attack on Hilversum…!
With the sword of the Spirit…
1 This was, of course, the Saturday after the events described in the last chapter, when the elders of the congregation of Hilversum had decided to take Rev. Buddingh’s offer to preach for them.
2 Jan, his wife Evertje, and the others mentioned in this chapter, were all members of the new Secessionist congregation in Bunschoten.
3 Beds were often in cupboards in the wall of these small Dutch homes to conserve space. They were folded down for use, and folded up against the wall during the day. Doors could be closed so that they could not be seen during waking hours.
4 Jacob Baas did not go along on this trip, but lent his horses and buggy to Jan Hartog.
5 In the last chapter mentioned was made of Rev. Buddingh’s eccentricity, especially in his dress. He wore the clothes that preachers wore 100 or more years before the Secession took place. He probably did this as a protest against the modernistic tendencies in the State Church.
6 The name of a church.
A Story from the Time of the Afscheiding
translated by Rev Cornelius Hanko
“Floris V”1 Brings News
Evert Splint and his family had joined the Secessionist Church in Hilversum, after having been refused aid from the deacons of their former congregation. As a result of their church move, Evert was fired from his job as weaver. But Gerard Ham, the owner of another mill and the son of a godly “minister-weaver” who had started the mill, gave him a job, though at a decrease in pay.
In the past weeks the appearance of the Gooise2 acres had changed completely. The farmers had once again thoroughly fertilized their soil with sheep manure3 and, if possible, with dove manure. About the tenth of May the buckwheat was sowed, which was at that time a common commodity from which grits were prepared.4
Under favorable weather conditions, after about three months it was ready to be harvested and threshed. “Out of and into the sack in a hundred days” was the common saying. But night frost could bring severe damage and cause a crop failure. Therefore, raising buckwheat always involved a great risk. According to the Gooise farmers, it could be a “golden ring” or a “copper collar.”5
An extensive bee industry was inseparably connected with all this. Around the Gooise towns were numerous bee enclosures, which were square fields surrounded by a wall of oak trees.
In the summer months within these oak walls were placed simple beehives made of rye straw, which were protected in these enclosures from the wind and the sheep who grazed on the moors. These bee enclosures were rented out during the summer months to the beekeepers who came from far and wide with their hives to the Gooi.
As soon as the buckwheat began to bloom, millions of bees were released among the reddish-white flowers. They took care of the pollinating. As soon as the buckwheat had stopped blooming there was nothing left for the bees but the purple-colored moor.
The first Saturday of June had arrived. In the bee enclosure of Ko Boelhouwer, which was at the end of his field, right by the moor, two boys were romping on the ground. They were Maarten and Koen.6 Evert Splint, who diligently worked in Ko’s small field in the little free time that he had, had once taken his son along to the field and since then a strong bond had developed between the blonde farmer’s boy and the dark weaver’s boy. This friendship meant much to both of them.
Maarten’s life was a lonely one after his father joined the Secessionists. Many of his friends more or less ignored him. Even his friend Cornelis Ravenswaay more and more associated with others. Maarten had become attached to the frail weaver’s chap even though through Koen’s constant contact with the rough atmosphere of the weaving mill he at time used some coarse language.7
And Koen enjoyed every minute of it. His friend unawares taught him many things of which he formerly had no knowledge whatever. That evening Maarten’s father had sent them to the bee enclosure to inspect it and if necessary to fix it up. He did not attach much value to their “inspection,” but on the farm they were constantly in his way.
After a few seconds Maarten had already declared with a straight face that the enclosure was in tip-top shape, which earned him a punch from Koen. And so the enclosure became the arena for a wild wrestling match in which Maarten proved to be the strongest and Koen the most agile.
Now both “inspectors” lay panting on the ground recovering from their unexpected fatigue. Soon Maarten got up. He stared at the waving buckwheat and saw Koen’s father working off in the distance.
“Say,” he whispered softly, “shall we act as if we are beggars and your father is Alva? Then we’ll creep up on him!”8
“Alva, who was that?” asked Koen suspiciously, for he knew very little of the history of his fatherland.
“Well, then we’ll act as if he is a Belgian officer,” Maarten corrected hastily.9 If only he could sneak up on someone unexpectedly!
“No, thanks,” Koen protested, wishing a better role for his father than being a Belgian. He looked angrily in the opposite direction, but promptly ducked down, pulling Maarten with him.
“Look who is coming, Maarten,” he whispered. Maarten stared carefully through the growth of the protective wall and to his amazement saw Thijs Van Vliet, a hired servant of “Father Jacob,”10 who went to their church.
“Maarten, we’ll act as if he is Floris V,”11 Koen chuckled. That was one of the few stories that the weaver boys knew from their part-time attendance at school.
They were, after all, only a few kilometers away from the very spot where the count had been captured.
When the servant of the farmer innocently arrived at the entrance of the enclosure both “nobles” unexpectedly fell upon his neck. “Your adventures are over!” they shouted. “Count Floris” staggered on his feet for a moment because of his great surprise, but then he treated his attackers with such a severe kick in the rear that the dust blew from their britches. Soon they all three stood together laughing heartily.
“Why did you actually come here to our enclosure?” Maarten asked inquisitively.
“To see it for myself,” the servant answered, and in the meantime he went on to state his business. “Did your father rent it out as yet?’
“Not that I know of,” answered the boy with surprise. “You go and ask him.”
“Good idea,” mumbled Thijs, at the same time lighting up an impossibly crooked pipe.
“My nose warmer,” he explained cheerfully. “This is to calm me from the scare you gave me.”
Soon after, they were walking along the narrow path between the buckwheat in the direction of the farm. For safety’s sake Thijs let the two boys walk in front of him. “First the dirt, then the broom,” he explained. “And if you once more have something to say about my precious nose warmer, my foot will accidentally shoot forward.”
When the cheerful group came to the farm they saw Maarten’s father sitting on the broad, white painted seat in front of the house, enjoying the beautiful Saturday summer evening. Next to him sat grandfather and Gijsbert Haan, while Bas constantly nipped at flies.
“There is Thijs van Vliet,” shouted Ko Boelhouwer cheerfully. “There is just enough room left for you, man!” The servant sat down beside them, while Maarten and Koen sat cross-legged, in Indian fashion, on the grass.
“I have a matter I want to discuss with you, Boelhouwer,” Thijs began at once. Gijsbert Haan immediately arose, but the servant restrained him. “It is nothing weighty. And I also have news for you, Haan.”
Having said that, he again turned himself to Boelhouwer. “Have you already rented out your bee enclosure for this year?”
“No,” answered the farmer, “I took it over from the church last year, but I have had no callers as yet.”
“Did you buy it from the church?” Thijs asked in surprise.
“Yes, didn’t you know that recently the Hervormde Kerk rented out at least 22 bee enclosures? Yet in the last few years I have been able to purchase this one for 25 guilders.”
“If they had known that you would separate from them, you would never have gotten them,” Gijsbert Haan remarked grimly.
“Why do you want to know all about that?” Ko Boelhouwer asked inquisitively. “Do you want to become a bee-keeper?”
Thijs began to laugh. “No, I cannot manage that. But I have an uncle in Nieuwere-ter-Aa who is engaged in bee-keeping. He has been looking for a bee enclosure in the Gooi for a long time.”
“Your uncle may come as soon as possible with his hives!” the farmer said happily, “for the buckwheat is ready to bloom.”
“We will surely agree on the price. Only the enclosure is small and has room for only twenty hives.”
“I already looked at it, although I found looking at it a dangerous business,” answered the servant with a wink at the boys. “Uncle Albert does not have more than 20 hives. I will write him a letter yet tonight.”
After chatting about this and that, Gijsbert Haan asked: “Did you still have something to tell us, Thijs?”
“Yes,” he answered hesitantly, after filling his “nose warmer” for the so manyeth time. “You know that lately I have been going to…Bunschoten.”12
The men began to laugh knowingly. “You seem to have nothing there but a girlfriend,” grandfather winked mischievously. To their satisfaction Maarten and Koen saw him coloring.
But he manfully continued his message. “In Bunschoten a number of people have separated themselves. A congregation has not yet been organized, as is the case here, but they do hold meetings. Lately Reverend Buddingh13 from Zeeland has appeared in the town.”
“I have heard about him already,” Gijsbert Haan interrupted Thijs, “…a remarkable man.”
“How is that?” asked grandfather curiously.14
“Well, he still dresses like someone of the last century. He wears knee breeches, a black skirt and a bib, while his head is covered with a three-cornered hat.”
“There are more ministers like that,” the old man remarked. “However, I do like their sincerity. You take Reverend Scholte,15 he even wears a military medal on the pulpit, the medal cross of the Ten Day Campaign.16 That is not proper at all, Haan.”
“Clothing is not the most important,” answered Gijsbert Haan somewhat sharply. He would hear nothing bad about Reverend Scholte.
Ko Boelhouwer was wise to request Thijs to continue his story.
“Well, I talked to Reverend Buddingh this week. I told him about the situation here and he said he was willing to come to Hilversum to preach a week from tomorrow!”
These words were followed by a deep silence. Even the boys, who were engaged in tussling with Bas, suddenly gave full attention to the men much to the dog’s disgust. They all had to have time to digest this important news.
Until now the enmity of the town against this small group was not as great as they had feared. It had been nothing more than an exchange of abuse. Yet how would they react to the coming of a Secession minister? And besides that, such a well-known person as Reverend Buddingh? But the men also had a keen desire to have a minister in their midst, even though he might be an objectionable figure.
Finally Gijsbert Haan stood up and looked at Thijs. “I’ll bring this matter to the consistory as soon as possible. When are you going again to Bonschoten?”
“I intend to go there Wednesday evening.”
“Before you go stop a moment at my house. You may have to take a letter along.”
At that moment Koen’s father joined the company and took notice of the important news. “For the time being do not tell anyone,” said the weaver, glad yet at the same time careful.
Gijsbert Haan nodded in agreement. “For the present it remains among us, folks!”
“Maarten and Koen, come here a moment.”
In amazement the boys stood before the elder. “You have just heard that which maybe could have better been kept from your ears, but that’s the way it is. If in the next few days you talk past your mouths, this could become dangerous for Reverend Buddigh, for your parents, for all of us. Can I depend on your silence? Give me a hand.”
Spontaneously they laid their hand upon the hand of Gijsbert Haan, impressed by the serous tone of the elder. Bas jumped up, barking around them.
“It is a good thing that you are not forced to be quiet, you noise maker!” laughed grandfather while he threw a lump of dirt at the dog.
His words broke the tension. Thereupon the visitors said farewell, even though the long summer evening had not come to an end. Suddenly each one longed to go home.
That night Koen as well as Maarten went to sleep later than usual.
Vaguely the boys suspected that important events were about to take place.
In that they were not mistaken.
1 A Dutch nobleman from the last part of the 13th century. He was so famous in Dutch history that every schoolboy learned of him and his exploits. Here the name is put in quotes for reason which will become evident in the story.
2 Gooi was the name given to the farmland surrounding Hilversum. It ended at the moor, which was the rather wild and uncultivated land bordering on the sea.
3 The sheep grazed on the moors.
4 “Buckwheat” literally means “beechwheat,” because the grain is very similar to beechnuts. The crop, which belongs to a family of grains called “The Thousand Button” Family, is very rich in honey and can sometimes grow to the height of one meter (39.37 inches). The coat of arms of the village of Hilversum and Bussum (where the events of this book take place) has the buckwheat kernel on it since this area was famous for its buckwheat. Since the introduction of fertilizer the interest in buckwheat disappeared for a time, but it is once again in demand. It is highly recommended because of its high food value and it is a means to control high blood pressure. When buckwheat disappeared from Hilversum, the api (bee) culture also disappeared. Of the forty Hilversum groups of bee hives, there is only one left in the so-called Corvers Grove on the west border of the town. (endnote of the author.)
5 The harvest would be a “golden ring” if it was abundant and brought the farmers income. It was a “copper collar” if the crop failed and the farmers lost their investment in seed, for oftentimes they went into debt to buy the seed and the debt became a shackle.
6 We met Maarten in Chapter 1. He was a son of Ko Boelhouwer, the farmer. Koen was a son of the Evert Splint, the weaver.
7 Perhaps the reader will recall that the children of the poorer class often had to work in the mills. For some opportunity was given to these children to go to school during the lunch hour so that they could acquire a little education at least. This was true of Koen.
8 The reference here is to the Spanish Duke of Alva who was the most detested man in Netherlands because he led the Spanish forces against the Dutch armies to destroy the Reformation and keep the Netherlands under the rule of Spain. The beggars were sea-faring men who harassed Spanish shipping, raided coastal towns held by the Spaniards, and were instrumental in delivering the northern part of the Lowlands from Spanish rule. These same beggars broke the dikes and flooded the land so that they could sail overland to lift the siege of Leiden. The story is of the heroic resistance of the inhabitants of Leiden even though starvation was their lot.
9 In the war with Spain the northern part of the Lowlands became Protestant Netherlands, while the southern part remained Roman Catholic and became what later was called Belgium.
10 “Father Jacob” was the nickname of the deacon who had refused financial help to the Splint family. He was a member of the apostate State Church. But apparently Thijs Van Vliet went to the Secessionist Church.
11 See footnote 1.
12 A nearby town.
13 A Secessionist minister.
14 Grandfather, whom we met earlier, lived with the Boelhouwers
15 One of the original ministers of the Secession. Scholte with his followers eventually settled in what is now Pella, Iowa.
16 A military campaign.
A Story from the Time of the Afscheiding
translated by Rev. Cornelius Hanko
The Hole in the Door
(The following chapter is mainly about Evert Splint. The readers will recall that he was the father of a poor family, and God had recently put into the family a new baby. Evert worked in the weaver’’ mill of Elbert Peet, but did not earn enough to support his family with the arrival of the new baby. He had asked for some help from the deacons of the church of which he was a member. This was the apostate State Church, called in the Netherlands, De Hervormde Kerk. The deacon who had come to see him, had cruelly refused help. In despair Evert was at the brink of returning to his old ways of drinking in the taverns, but was providentially kept from doing this by Manus Rebel, an unbelieving and rather blasphemous old army man, who engaged Evert in conversation and, inadvertently prevented him from entering nearby taverns. Manus had suggested the Secessionists to Evert when he rather off-handedly remarked, after hearing Evert’s story, that if he went to church at all, it would be with the Secessionists. The following Lord’s Day, Evert and his family had worshipped with the Secessionists.)
- Monday had dawned. Shortly before six o’clock the early morning light hung heavily over the town. But the feet of many workers already shuffled to the weaving mill.
Evert Splint was the first one to enter the workshop of Elbert Peet and was soon at work at his loom. The others soon followed, most of them carrying a bottle of liquor. Peet himself was not to be found. His laborers were not in the least surprised at that, for, as many other weavers’ bosses, he “kept Monday”, which meant that he spent the first hours of the day at the tavern. The weavers did not object, for “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.” They could take it easy and occasionally take an extra drink.
They all were quite amazed, therefore, when exactly at seven o’clock the boss suddenly appeared at the door. “Stop!” he cried loudly, and immediately the deafening clatter of the looms died away and gave way to a strange, ominous silence.
Slowly, almost sneaking along, the feared weavers’ boss entered the mill and put himself in front of Evert Splint. “Where is your little boy?”
“My wife and I wanted to wait a little while with sending Krijntje to the work shop, boss.”
“Oh, how touching; and the church likely has to put up with that?”
It took Elbert Peet an exasperatingly long time to light a cigar and to pinch his eyes into small slits. “What business did you have to go to narrow-minded hypocrites?”
Splint looked at his boss without fear. “Yesterday I heard the pure preaching of the Word at the Secessionists.”
“Are you going to join them?”
“I still have to think about that, boss.”
“Think? Your kind need not think, we take care of the thinking. I want to hear your answer right now!”
In the breathless silence that followed it became evident to Splint that not his boss but God was placing him before this choice. That caused his last hesitancy to fade away.
“Yes, boss, I am separating myself from the Hervormde Kerk, because God no longer wills that I stay there.”
With a malicious sneer, Peet turned himself to the others. “Can you still work with such a driveling fool?”
“No, boss,” rang forth the cringing reply from all sides.
“You heard it, Splint, and you are fired. There is the hole of the door! Disappear!”
Pale and silent, Evert Splint stepped to the door. “Starve as far as I am concerned!” mocked the voice of the weavers’ boss.
Evert turned around. “The Lord will provide, boss,” he said. A rough curse came as an answer.
Soon the looms droned on once more. But the feeling among the men at the looms was more bitter than ever. Even Lammert Vlaanderen, usually Splint’s worst teaser, gnashed his teeth in helpless rage, and Geert de Gooier reached out that morning for the first time for the bottle.
A few hours later Splint stepped on the property of Gijsbert Haan. Marretje Pos, Haan’s wife, was to be found on that Monday morning bleaching her wash in the back shed. She was very surprised to have a visitor at this unusual hour.
“Has your husband already returned from milking, Mrs. Haan?”
“Yes, he is back by the chickens. He is very busy.”
“I wish that I could also say that! Shall I just go to him?”
Marretje took a good look at the weaver and only then did she realize that yesterday he was with his family at their meetings.
Splint walked to the back of the farmyard and stood in front of the leader of the Hilversum Secessionists, who immediately recognized Splint.
“Do you want to talk to me?’ he asked in a friendly tone.
“Gladly, if that is possible,” answered Splint, taking off his cap.
Both men went into the house and sat down with a cup of coffee which Marretje had poured out.
“How did it happen that you came to our meetings yesterday?” the farmer asked, opening the discussion. Evert Splint began to speak. He told a bit about his life at the edge of “Devil’s Corner” and gave a thorough account of the visit of Jacob Bollebakker.1
Meanwhile Gijsbert Haan silently took a swallow of coffee and lit his pipe. When the weaver had had his say, Haan looked him squarely in the eye.
“Then you decided to try it with the Secessionists, hoping that you might get support from us?”
It sounded razor sharp. However, Splint realized at once that he was being put to the test. “I am separating myself because that is the way of the Lord, as I see it. However, you need no longer speak of support, for this morning I was suddenly fired.”
Now Haan jumped up. “What? Did Elbert Peet set you out on the street, because you want to join us?” The farmer sank down again in dismay. In deep thought he lit his pipe. Then, having fully made up his mind, he laid his hand on the knee of the weaver who had been fired.
“Splint, tonight the consistory meets. I can tell you now that we will gladly receive you and your family as members. Moreover we will do all that we can for you, although right now I do not see how. I will take care of it at once. Be strong and keep looking up.”
Gijsbert Haan bid farewell to his guest and went immediately to the farm of Jan Donker, with whom he thoroughly discussed the matter. Donker promised to discuss the matter that afternoon with his fellow-deacon Gerrit Meijer.
Both men made a plan and decided not to wait a moment in executing it.
For years the weaving mill of the Ham family had stood at the Doodweg. The business had a remarkable history. Just before the French Revolution,2 Reverend Fredrik Ham had preached his inaugural sermon in the town. He had never concealed his love for the House of Orange,3 not even from the pulpit.
Hostile patriots had, therefore, made work of it that his salary was withheld, even before the arrival of the French. As a result Reverend Ham and his ten children were without an income.
Not knowing where to turn the preacher set up his own weaver mill, with the financial support of some well-to-do families of princes. Thus he could provide for the support of his family. The “preacher-weaver” did not live to see the Secession. After his death in 1810 his sons carried on the business.
One of them, Gerard Ham, had just left the weaving mill that afternoon when both the Secessionist deacons approached him.
“Gerard is here,” Jan Donker murmured happily. “We could not have struck it better.”
Gerrit Meijer did the talking. “Do you have a moment for us, Ham?” he asked in a loud voice, because he knew that Ham was slightly deaf.
“A bachelor always has time,” laughed the merchant. “Walk along with me to my house.” The men gladly accepted the invitation. The walls sometimes have ears.
A little later Gerrit calmly explained the difficulties in which the Splint family had been placed.
“I know all about Elbert Peet,” Ham scolded; “but what are you asking of me?”
“We are come to ask whether you will give Splint a job.” Now that they had asked they waited with bated breath for his answer.
He had stood up and was walking back and forth through the room with wrinkled brow. “Our business is fully staffed, I do not need a weaver.”
“But Evert Splint and his family have need of you,” Gerrit Meijer struck back.
“Why me? I don’t see it.”
“Because you have a warm heart for the Secession. That is why we came to you.”
“Don’t you realize how murderous the competition is?” the manufacturer responded, defending himself without responding to Meijer’s last words. Jan Donker stood up and placed himself directly in front of Gerard Ham.
“I understand completely. You are afraid of Elbert Peet and his crowd. Therefore you dare not hire a fired Secessionist. But I remind you of your father, who, when it involved the truth, stepped aside for no one, and he was not put to shame.”
The merchant stared outside for a little while, as if something interesting was happening out there. Then with a jerk he turned himself around.
“Splint can start Monday!” Four hands eagerly reached out for his.
“No foolishness, please! I will have to pay him a guilder less than Peet.”
“We shall try to find a solution for that.”
At the door the men left the merchant with a hearty farewell.
“When are you going to join us?” Gerrit Meijer risked asking, but Gerard Ham seemed once more to have a problem with his hearing.
He watched the men go until they disappeared in the direction of the Moleneind.
“Blessed is the church that has such deacons,” Ham mumbled to himself as he slowly closed the door.
A few hours later great happiness reigned in the small house at the Langeind. “Monday back at the loom.”
“The guilder that you earn less will be supplied by us,” remarked Gerrit Meijer.
“How is that possible?” asked Splint in amazement, for he knew that the majority of the congregation consisted of the poor folk.
“That is our affair,” smiled the other. “And our honor,” Jan Donker added.
“Moreover Ko Boelhouwer is offering you a parcel of land on which you can do some gardening. You need pay nothing for that, if you will not spread the information around.”
Humbled in thankfulness Evert Splint and his wife pressed the hands of the deacons. “Let us give thanks to God,” said Jan Donker simply.
Gerrit Meijer led in a powerful prayer.
For a little while a great silence reigned. Then Jan Donker laughed quietly. “Actually you are not even recorded as members in our records as yet, but we are going immediately to the consistory meeting; otherwise we will be late.”
That evening Splint went to smoke a pipe on the farm of Ko Boelhouwer. Upon his return he happened to meet Tijmen Grootveld, who came to inform him that the consistory had gladly accepted him and his family as members
In many homes God was thanked that night for His unexpected blessings.
1 The deacon who had come to see Evert and had refused him help.
2 The reference is to the revolution during which Napoleon came to power. He ruled also in the Netherlands, and under his rule, De Hervormde Kerk was reorganized.
3 When Napoleon took over the rule of the Netherlands, the House of Orange, the ruling house in the Netherlands since the time of the Reformation, was deposed. Many wanted the return of this royal house.
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